After I finished writing up the blog last night I gave n+1 attempts at checking in online to our flights tomorrow (Where n is any reasonable number of attempts you could guess) It still failed, but I did manage to get extra legroom and “luxury” seats. Will be nice to find out what that includes…
The morning dripped past with a little work for me and lots of activity and accommodation research. We had lunch and then took a Grab to the airport in lots of time. It was cheaper than the train. This was a bit of a shame becuse I enjoy seeing and using public transport in other countries, you get to see real life of people.
FINALLY we checked in at an automated kiosk (that was literally running the same webforms we had been trying to use online…) got our boarding passes, ticket for the bag, and dropped it off at the appropriate place. We then had a coke and relaxed at a PoP fast food restaurant for a while till we thought we should go thru security.
This done, we were surprised to find zero food shops. So we headed towards zone P where our ticket said we would be departing from. We had to go thru another security checkpoint to get there, but then saw a digital notice board. Our flight had not just changed gates, but changed zones! It was now going from zone L. So sheepishly back thru security we went and up went the stress levels as we followed the signs. At the end of the road, we found somewhere to get some dinner before the flight.
The first flight was at 19:35 getting in at 20:40. Then we had to pass thru immigration, collect our bag, go round to departures, check us and our bag back in for the 2nd flight, go back thru security and emigration, and then get to our flight which was departing at 23:40. Not a lot of time, but 3 hours was ok. We sat down to dinner of Caesar salad. Turns out I’ve been missing lettuce more than I realised.
The girl next to us was complaining on the phone to someone that her laptop wasn’t charging so I let her borrow mine while we ate. Turns out she was trying to charge it off a piddly little phone charger, rather than something with enough juice. I gave her a quick education of what to look for in a suitable charger and in return she told us all the cool things to do in the city. Turns out she had just come from <see tomorrow’s blog> !!
Thats when, with a mouthful of creamy chicken, croutons and romaine lettuce, I saw an email come in that the flight was delayed. Now departing 21:35 and arriving 22:40 that left us just 55 mins for all of the above. The check in desks usually close about 1 hour before a flight so there was just no way this was going to work.
The only way to find out more was to use the webchat with the travel agency about our options. They gave as much help as possible, but it was basically either accept the new flight times, or get a refund. I made sure to keep them on line chatting with us while Aimi frantically searched for alternative flights. There were very few good options (that didnt require selling a kidney). We had to make a decision before 19:35, the time of the original flight, and time was ticking away. Stress levels were high, but we worked thru it and found another path. Not sure any of my silliness helped…
There was no way we would get our bag off the plane now. It would be somewhere in the depths of the conveyor system or on a trolley waiting to be slung into the belly of a plane. So that was going with or without us and it would need someone to collect it at the other end. Therfore we decided to have our 2nd flight refunded and rebook a new trip from there. It meant taking an extra flight, (now 3 in total today) but only cost +£40 each.
A plan hatched and paid for, we head off to our new gate and had to go thru another security check. This was frustrating because I’d just bought 2 bottles of water to drink on the plane. I now had to go back to the shop and get them to stick them in a sealed certified bag so I could take them thru security.
We had bought new tickets that gave us 2 hours from the new flight time to do the immigration check out check in loop. We thought this would be enough and while the flight did go smoothly, we arrived 30 mins later again meaning we had 1 and half hours. And of course, immigration was a huge sea of people queuing… fucks sake. We can’t have gone thru all this hassle and work just to miss our new flights!
The only way thru quickly was to put Aimi in an airport wheelchair, but that was a little dishonest for our taste…
Lines moved slowly so we divided and both queued separately. I ended up ahead in my line, but it was impractical for Aimi to join me. Another moment of panic as she mouthed across the silent immigration queues “I don’t have the onward travel info” in case they needed proof she was only transferring thru. The only way without internet to send it from my phone, to hers, was via Bluetooth, and luckily there was just enough range.
I was nearly thru so I mouthed back “I’m going to grab the bag and run to check in”. And thats what I did. As soon as I was thru I took off and had little mercy or sympathy for anyone who didn’t get out of the big hairy loud and sweaty westerner running with a huge pink holdall over his shoulder. A mobile phone SIM card seller attempted their pitch, but I cut them off and asked for directions. They understand the urgency and gave really good, clear instructions that I then pounded out, puffing away. It meant going literally out the building, up 2 flights or stairs and back in the building, and its 35 degrees outside now! I was dripping as I turned up to the check in desk. They told me we had 30 mins before check in closed and suddenly I relaxed.
Then I saw that Aimi had called me 3 times and finally I answered. She was livid, thinking I’d just abandoned her. I think some of my mouth movement meaning may have been lost in the croud. But she doesnt scream and shout, she just gets blunt and quietly furious and walks quickly. In anycase, we got our tickets and she came down a peg. Then we got thru security, and the sweaty wet patch under my tits and on my back started to stick to me… super uncomfortable, especially for whoever the poor person is sitting next to me on the plane.
As soon as we got thru security, an enterprising chap offered to sell me a Banh Mi and a Beer and there was no way I was missing that. Banh Mi are such an essential Vietnamese food, and were my absolute favourite when I travelled there. And the beer was glorious after the stress of everything. Of course, Aimi accused me of being Joey with his sandwich, not understanding the significance of what I’d just bought. I saved it for the flight as she was staring daggers at me again, itching to get moving.
In amongst the rush, I had managed to upgrade our seats (again for just £10.60!!!!) to extra legroom for me and “luxury” for her. There was no explanation of what “luxury” included, but it was in the row behind me. We could only guess that “luxury” meant not haveing someone sit next to you (which is a sad commentry on our society). Every other extra legroom seat was taken, but now we were on the plane her nose crinkly smile was starting to return thinking of where we are headed.
Seeing our separation, a nice guy gave up his extra legroom seat so Aimi could sit next to me. This was a nice karmic reward for playing by the rules, not falling out and working together to find a way past the obstacles in our path.